University Culture Committee

(As approved by the Board of Trustees in June 2023)

I.    Purpose 

The Board of Trustees seeks to ensure that the culture  of the University supports the success of its mission and strategic direction. The University Culture Committee (“Committee”) is formed to support and enhance the capacity of the Queen’s University Board of Trustees (“Board”) to fulfil both its strategic responsibilities, and its fiduciary obligations to oversee the University’s working and learning environment and their alignment with the University’s values and strategic priorities, and to oversee associated risks. 

II.    Authority

The University Culture Committee is a Committee of the Board of Trustees of Queen’s University from which it derives its authority and to which it reports. 

Oversight Areas: The Committee has delegated authority from the  oversee, provide advice to the Board, to review and recommend matters to the Board for Board in respect of the areas of oversight for which it has accountability under these Terms of Reference. As specified under “Duties and Responsibilities” below, the Board delegates to the University Committee the authority to monitor, and to approve matters on behalf of the Board. 

Professional Advisors: The Committee has the authority, with the consent of the Chair of the Board, to retain professional advisors as it deems appropriate to fulfilling its obligations under these Terms of Reference. 

III.      Duties and Responsibilities 

The Culture Committee is accountable to the Board for oversight of those aspects of the quality of the student experience within the Board’s purview, the quality of the University workplace culture, and the University’s plans in respect of social issues affecting University culture and strategic priorities (“Oversight Areas”). 

i. Quality of Student Experience

The Committee will oversee the quality of the student experience, and specifically will:  

Oversee and recommend to the Board for approval the development of a framework to monitor, assess, and improve the experience of students at the University, by guiding the University to understand and identify those significant aspects of the student experience within the Board’s purview. 

Annually review specified aspects of the student experience based on the student experience framework, and report to the Board the Committee’s assessment of the effectiveness of the University’s activities in these areas. 

Annually consider trends, initiatives, and developments affecting post-secondary students in Canada, assess the University’s planning to address future changes, and advise the Board of the Committee’s assessment of the University’s readiness to address future changes. 

At least every three years, assess the effectiveness and currency of the student experience framework, and recommend to the Board updates and changes to the student experience framework. 

ii. Quality of Workplace Culture 

The Committee will oversee the quality of the University’s workplace culture, and specifically will:  

Oversee and recommend to the Board for approval the development of a framework to monitor, assess, and improve the quality of the workplace culture at the University, by guiding the University to understand and identify significant aspects of the workplace culture.

Annually report on workplace culture based on the workplace culture framework, and report to the Board the Committee’s assessment of the effectiveness of the University’s activities in this area. 

Annually consider trends, initiatives, and developments affecting the University as a workplace, assess the University’s planning to address future changes, and advise the Board of the Committee’s assessment of the University’s readiness to address future changes. 

At least every three years, assess the effectiveness and currency of the workplace culture framework, and recommend to the Board updates and changes to the framework. 

iii. University Culture 

Recognizing that there are aspects of University culture that affect both those working and those learning at the University, the Committee will attend to aspects of University culture that affect all internal constituents, and specifically will: 

Consider the student experience and workplace culture frameworks to avoid siloed thinking, and to ensure, where appropriate, complementarity and consistency between the frameworks, to identify overarching aspects of University culture that should be considered and evaluated holistically by the Committee, and included in the Committee’s assessment of University culture and their annual report to the Board. 

iv. University Decision-Making 

The Committee will oversee certain key decision-making processes affecting internal University constituents, and specifically will: 

Facilitate the Office of the Ombudsperson's accountability relationship with the Board in accordance with the Office’s terms of reference and, more particularly, through the review and approval of the Terms of Reference for the Office of the University Ombudsperson.

Review, advise upon, and approve the proposed work plan of the University Ombudsperson for the coming year.

Through the Committee Chair, or Vice-Chair where the chair is not independent , in consultation with the Vice-Principal (Culture, Equity and Inclusion), review and concur with the appointment, re-assignment, or dismissal of the University Ombudsperson, and their annual performance assessment.  The Ombudsperson has an accountability relationship to the Committee and the Board, through the Committee Chair, or the Vice-Chair as the case may be.

Receive reports from time to time from the Ombudsperson Advisory Committee on the work of that Committee, including observations and advice relating to the prominence, understanding, and efficacy of the Office of the Ombudsperson.

Oversee the University’s non-academic misconduct system, policies, and procedures, and assess the system’s effect on student experience. 

Regularly consider and recommend changes to the Student Code of Conduct, Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Policy, and Harassment and Discrimination Prevention and Response Policy and related policies and procedures to the Board for approval.  

Receive from the Vice-Principal (Culture, Equity, and Inclusion), an annual report regarding the activities of the portfolio.  

Receive from the Office of Investigations and Complaints, an annual summary report regarding trends in complaints, disputes, and investigations pertaining to the workplace culture and the student experience. 

Consider the patterns and trends arising from the reports regarding the policies and procedures overseen by the Committee , the work of the Vice-Principal (Culture, Equity and Inclusion) and the Ombudsperson, and report to the Board annually the implications, if any, for aspects of University culture, student experience, or workplace culture and the student experience framework.

v. Risk Management

The Committee will support a robust risk management framework at the University, and specifically will: 

Consider and probe risk(s), risk mitigation, and risk management as a part of all its decision-making processes and within its Oversight Areas. 

Oversee the strategic or other risk(s) assigned to the Committee by the Audit & Risk Committee and report annually to the Audit & Risk Committee respecting the Committee’s assessment of the risk(s) assigned, the basis for such assessment, and the ongoing work of the Committee to monitor work to address deficiencies in the management or mitigation of such risks.

IV.      Composition and Skills 

The Committee will include eight to 10 members, the majority of whom will be appointed from the Board of Trustees. 

In addition to the foregoing, the Chair of the Board, the Chancellor, the Principal, and the Rector will serve ex officio on the Committee. 

V.     Governance Practices

Each year, the Committee will provide applicable training and education to its members to allow them to fulfil their responsibilities to the Committee. The Committee will annually report its training and education work to the Governance and Nominating Committee. 

All Committee members will foster an inclusive Committee culture that encourages the sharing of diverse perspectives in line with the Board’s commitments to advance Indigenization, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Anti-Racism and Accessibility. 

All Committee members will fulfil the same expectations and are held to the same standards as Trustees including compliance with the Board’s Code of Conduct. All Committee members will fully and effectively engage in the work of the Committee, including through attendance at Committee meetings. In conducting its work, the Committee will remain mindful of any legal or regulatory requirements, governance leading practices, the Queen’s University Charter, By-Laws, Policies, and the Board of Trustees’ Guiding Principles for Board Committees. 

VI.      Meetings

The Committee will meet at least three times annually.  
 

1Culture can be defined as the ways people at Queen’s behave and the attitudes and beliefs that inform those behaviors (i.e., “the way we do things around here”) — including formal, stated norms as well as implicit ways people work and interact. See: https://hbr.org/2021/02/company-culture-is-everyones-responsibility

2The oversight responsibilities of the Audit and Risk Committee are such that good governance practices dictate its members must be considered independent.  Anyone in a material relationship with the University is not independent - a “material relationship” is a relationship that could, in the view of the board, be reasonably expected to interfere with the exercise of a member’s independent judgement” . See: https://assets.kpmg.com/content/dam/kpmg/ca/pdf/2021/11/kpmg-audit-Committee-guide-canadian-edition.pdf, p. 6

 

Membership Status Term Ends
N. Boytchuk-Hale Ex Officio  
P. Deane Ex Officio  
M. Sinclair Ex Officio  
M. Wilson Trider Ex Officio  
R. Al-Rawi Appointed Jun-2025
H. Black Appointed Jun-2025
D. Bruce Appointed Jun-2024
A. Butler  Appointed Jun-2024
E. Egron-Polak Appointed Jun-2025
N. Evans Appointed Jun-2024
K. Ogawa Appointed Jun-2025
B. Pierre-Gilles Appointed Jun-2024
Y. Williams Appointed Jun-2025

Chair: N. Evans
Vice-Chair: H. Black